John Halligan calls for HSE-run drug shops

The junior minister for education has suggested that the opening of HSE-run drug shops should be considered and that the use of drugs should be decriminalised.

Independent TD John Halligan has also said that prostitution should be regulated and that ministerial wages, including his own, should be reduced further.

Mr Halligan, in a very personal interview for the latest edition of Hot Press, also said that he had a healthy sex life with his partner and that God did not exist.

But the junior education minister’s comments about the use of drugs could fuel debate and pile pressure on his Fine Gael ministerial colleagues to address his calls.

“I think they [drugs] should be regulated,” the Waterford TD said. ““I think it should be decriminalised. I don’t think people that are caught smoking a bit of hash should be brought to court —absolutely not. And heroin addiction is a cruel addiction for people. They need help and not to be brought into court for using it. I’d fecking definitely bring the drug pushers to court, but not the people that use it.”

He favours the Portuguese model, which allows for the legal use of drugs.

Specific areas run by the HSE where drugs could be sold or used should be examined, he suggested.

“What would the effects be if you were to have an area where you might be able to buy a small amount of cannabis, once a week or something, for people who smoke cannabis?” he asked.

“Would that be better than buying it off a drug pusher? Would we not take the drug pushers out of the equation if there were particular government shops set up by the HSE, or whoever, where you could buy some legalised drugs? We should have a look at that and see is that a way forward — because we’re losing the drugs war. All across the world, the drugs war has been lost.”

The minister also said he favoured the idea of injection centres for heroin addicts.

“People injecting themselves with dirty needles and picking up Hepatitis C and so on? We have to look at that in tandem with trying to wean people off heroin because heroin is a deadly drug,” he said.

The decriminalisation of cocaine should also be considered, he said.

“The Americans have spent billions and they’ve lost it. We’re losing it in Dublin, we’re losing it in other areas of the country.”

Mr Halligan, who said he had never tried marijuana, also said prostitution should be regulated.

“They [prostitutes] make the point they enjoy it, they’re not being brutalised, they’re not being victimised,” he said. “And what they were saying was, to deal with the people that are being victimised that maybe you need to regulate it. It should be regulated in the sense where it’s checked by the Guards, checked by the medical profession. And then I think it will take it away from pimps that run prostitution rings.”

He also said he favoured restoring full welfare payments for those aged 18 to 23. Of cutting ministerial wages, he said: “We should bring it down to where we could reason with ourselves as to how other people are suffering.”

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